‘Castles Made of Sand’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Woke up (later than normal) this morning with what can only be described as a sore head. The after effects of drinking a few too many Belikins last night when Rose and I started off the night by going to Legends Burger House to catch the inaugural Blues Wednesday. The place was heaving and the sounds were great.

After a few beers there (who was counting) we headed off to the Roadkill Bar to find the place equally as busy. It was packed with the Jerry Jeff Walker Pickin’ Parties who all appeared to want to take part in the karaoke.

It was a fun evening but I paid the price in the morning and it took me much, much longer to ‘get in to gear’. I did come around eventually and Rose and I set off to see what was going on at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As we’re driving down the road we could see a tipper truck parked up. When we got to the site we could see why. Wooden poles needed to be moved to allow the truck access to tip its load of sand for our castle.

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Sam and Martin moving the poles.

They worked quickly and it wasn’t long before the truck was tipping its load.

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Preparing for the concrete pour.

Even before the truck had departed Sam and Martin were back at work cutting wood to make the side form boards.

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Watch your fingers!

The forms were being assembled in the shade near the bodega ready for moving to near our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize when the guys fixing the boards were ready for them.

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How many more do we need?

Once again we could not get inside the house because of the scaffolding but we could see that most of the base form boards had been fitted because the inside of the Ground Floor was so dark. Very little sunlight was getting through.

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Look how dark inside the northern side of the house is.

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Looking through the clerestory window.

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Dark inside of the western (lagoon) side of the house.

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Close up of the main bedroom.

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Looking into the living/kitchen room and the store room.

Walking around to the southern side of the house we could see that boards were being prepared for fixing for the veranda.

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Measuring where to cut.

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Let’s get the nails in.

It wasn’t long before another board was ready for fixing for the southern veranda.

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Alfredo fixing it in place.

As we completed the final tour of the outside we could see that they were putting the final supports in place for the staircase.

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Zapeda in cramped working conditions.

It was obvious that there is still some work to do before the pour for the First Floor can take place but hopefully this can be completed for Saturday. This is still obviously the target because as Rose and I were preparing to leave the tipper truck turned up. This time with a delivery of gravel.

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It’s a tight fit.

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Got there!

The headline is based on the second track of side two of the ‘Axis, Bold as Love’ album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience which was released in 1967 in the UK and the following year in the US.

‘What Hurts the Most’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize?

Early morning errands in town this morning gave me the excuse (not that I really need an excuse) to have breakfast at Estel’s. Having filled myself with the food and the view I very quickly visited Gekko Graphics to get some printing done (we are not buying a printer until we move in to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize). Then on to the Post Office to mail a cheque ( wonder of wonders, I received a refund (not a large amount but …) from the UK Customs and Excise for an overpayment of personal income tax) and then on to Atlantic Bank to make a withdrawal (I hate those) for upcoming bills we have to pay.

Also stopped off at the BEL (Belize Electricity Limited) office in Pescador Drive to query why the apartment we are renting has been classified as Commercial. Turns out it wasn’t a mistake but that for someone who owns two or more residential properties ( as the owner that we are renting from does) only one of the properties can be categorised as Residential with the rest being Commercial . Both of his properties,however, are charged at the residential tariff. So now you know. It does pay though to check bills wherever you are but this is especially so in Belize.

At around 12.45 pm Rose and I went to Pedro’s Hotel to have lunch before watching Arsenal come back from two nil down to earn a draw. Not the winning result I was hoping for but, obviously, better than losing. The lunch and the company were, as usual, exceptionally good.

With the game over Rose and I headed off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and when we got there were greeted with the news that we had experienced our first accident on the site ( not counting my injury because I am not working on the build). On Monday afternoon, when jumping down from a scaffold, Nicholas had landed on a nail sticking out of a plank of wood. Not good when you are barefooted. He didn’t work yesterday but was back at work today. This time wearing boots! Seriously though, it is great to see him back and OK. Don’t know though, whose injury hurt the most. His or mine?

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Nicholas with the boots.

As expected, work was continuing on fixing the form boards and real progress had been made for the veranda on the western (lagoon) side of the house.

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All ‘floor’ boards in.

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You can see the boards better in this photo.

Progress was also being made on fixing the forms for the veranda on the northern side of the house.

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Still a lot to do but it has started.

They had also been working on the forms for the veranda on the eastern (road) side of the house.

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Shape of the veranda at the top of the stairs.

We couldn’t get inside the Ground Floor but I did manage to take a few shots from outside.

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‘Floor’ forms in place in the store room.

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Boards starting to be fixed over the golf cart parking area.

Whilst all this was going on Anhill had the ‘pleasure’ of working in the water tank removing the Ground Floor form boards.

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And another board sees the light of day.

Hopefully on Thursday we can get inside to take some photos (aided by the flash).

The headline is based on the 2005 single by Rascal Flatts’ which reached number six in the US Billboard Hot 100 but number one in the US Country Billboard chart.

‘If I Had a Hammer’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

It actually felt a bit like being back at work this morning and -not that I hanker for this kind of feeling on a full-time basis – I quite enjoyed it.

It involved some use of communication skills to try to make use of the return leg of the flights we booked with United Airlines when we moved to Ambergris Caye, Belize last May. We had managed to accumulate enough Mileage Plus rewards to fly Business Class with the return flights ( which we had no immediate plans to make use of) being Economy.

Our plan was ( hopefully still is) to convert the ‘return’ tickets to allow us to fly to Dallas for our ‘home fixtures and fittings’ inspection trip and book ( and pay for obviously) the return flights.

I started off by ‘phoning the United Airlines’ office in Belize City and managed to get a response after a couple of ‘no answer’ attempts. I ran through what I want to do but was dismayed when the chap told me that we can only use the tickets for the booked route i.e.from Belize via Houston to London. No good for us because we don’t want to go back there (well not yet).

I have not given up though because I have completed ( and submitted) the highly restrictive (in the sense that it does not allow you to fully describe your requirement) on-line form. I now wait to see if this works. I somehow think though that we will be buying both the outbound and inbound tickets. Worth the try though.

Anyway, enough of my flirtation with trying to make use of communication skills and on with an update on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As Rose and I were pulling in to our land to park the golf cart we saw a delivery of – yes, you guessed it – rebar.

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Will this be enough for the First Floor?

By way of mitigation for mentioning rebar again I have a compensation.

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A real couple of birds in love.

As we walked towards our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we knew that work was seriously underway on putting in the forms for the concrete pour for the First Floor. All we could hear was the sound of hammers hitting nails.

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Banging a support in place for the western (lagoon) side veranda.

With the form boards being fitted we could more clearly see the shape and size of the veranda.

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So much better than trying to visualise what it will look like from the plans.

We could also see that the stairs to the First Floor were starting to take shape.

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This time next week we will be walking up them!

Piles of wood were being carried and placed near to our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

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Pile of wooden supports on the western side.

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Alfredo carrying the next support pole for fixing.

The plywood sheets stacked on the eastern (road) side of the house were being moved for fixing as the base for the forms.

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And another one.

Just as quickly as they were being stacked they were being moved up to be fixed.

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For the western side veranda.

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Daniel Camal, our building contractor, making sure that it is hammered into place correctly.

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One for the northern side of the house.

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Getting it in to position.

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Hammering the nails in place.

We couldn’t get in to the Ground Floor to look around because of the scaffolding but we knew from the sound of the hammering that boards for the First Floor were being fitted. With luck we will be able to take a look on our next visit.

For the health and safety conscious here’s a photo showing how they cut a support pole to fit.

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We expect to hear the sound of the hammer again tomorrow but if the fine weather continues the pour of concrete for the First Floor should take place on Saturday.

The headline is based on the song by Trini Lopez ( I know that there were earlier and later versions but this is the one that I remember from when I was young) which was released in 1963. It reached number three in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number four in the UK Singles Chart and number one in thirty-six other countries.

‘Our House’ in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Fully rested after my day off – thanks to the Mystery Blogger for filling in for me to produce yesterday’s edition- I am raring to go to report on week thirteen of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

First of all I want to correct an omission from Sunday’s edition. When we visited the build on Saturday we saw the first clear signs of how the clerestory windows will look (OK you have to have a good imagination but …).

We are making good ( well we hope that it proves to be good) use of these windows in the living/dining room area and the bedroom on the First Floor and in one of the bedrooms on the Ground Floor. On Saturday, with the forms in place, we could start to see what these windows will look like.

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Clerestory window on the Ground Floor is just below the form work.

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A close up view.

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And from inside the bedroom.

Rose and I spent the morning on general chores including a trip to the shops to stock up the cupboards and the refrigerator. We also managed to find a little time to start reviewing the lighting plan for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. The plans show this detail but we have the opportunity to finally decide what type of lights, where we want them, how many light switches, where we want them, etc,.These are the next decisions we need to let Daniel Camal, our building contractor, have. We will have this completed for our Friday afternoon meeting with Daniel.

In the afternoon we met with Larry and his wife Sandy to show them our house ( OK it is far from being finished but we are already thinking of it as ‘our house’). Larry ( who has been following the blog) and Sandy intend to build a home here and were keen to have a look at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and to meet with Daniel.

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Rose in a deep discussion with Sandy while Larry discusses a potential build with Daniel.

Having given Sandy and Larry a quick tour of the build Rose and I then spent some time making a closer inspection and were pleased to see that the forms had been removed from around the beams that were poured on Saturday.

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Beams for the southern veranda.

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And a close-up view.

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The western (lagoon) side.

The beams were also exposed in other rooms on the Ground Floor.

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The store room.

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The kitchen/living room area.

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The golf cart parking area.

Work was also underway on the staircase to the First Floor.

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Internal view.

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External view.

They were also starting work on putting the supports in place for the forms for the concrete slab for the First Floor.

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Edson making light work of it.

The results of their efforts removing the form boards were there to be seen.

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The ramp being put to good use.

The headline is based on the song by Madness which was released in 1982. It reached number five in the UK Singles Chart and number seven in the US Billboard Hot 100. As Michael Caine never said ‘ not a lot of people know that’ Rose’s sister Margaret lives on the opposite side of the street in which Suggs (Graham McPherson), the lead singer of Madness, lives.

Chocolat no it is not a misspell read on ;0)

Mystery blogger here

Mr. John is fed up with the rain. The build stops when it rains, and it is lashing down. We have decided to review our plans for the house and are going to build a castle instead. Why, well we already have a moat so all we need now is a drawbridge

.

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Mmmmm chocolate, mmmmmmm Johnny Depp, dream, zzzzzzzzz.

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No this is not a gratuitous picture of Johnny Depp, but if it was hey whats wrong with that. OK what is the connection between chocolate and Johnny Depp (between chocolate and Johnny Depp mmmmmm dream zzzzzzzz)? Oh where was I? Oh yes, the connection is Johnny Depp. Ooh I nearly went again. I must control myself. He was in a film called Chocolat. Yum yum.

A cautionary tale of two……..

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So the moral of the story is don’t drink and wear a zipped koozie. Which brings me nicely onto my next story.

Mr. John and myself went to Nashville last year. It was brilliant – home of country music. As I am a huge fan it was particularly exciting for me.

Went to Roberts Western World bar in Nashville, live music and bar food, which I like as it doesn’t interrupt your drinking time. I saw this and thought I must have one. Actually I bought two one for Mr. John and one for myself.

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Not a zip in sight. ;0)

Well that’s all from the Mystery Blogger until the next time.

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OK now this is a gratuitous picture of Johnny Depp mmmmmmmmmm dream zzzzzzzzzzz

Mr. John will be back tomorrow and don’t quote me on this I think there maybe rebar involved!!!!!!!!

‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Woke up this morning to the sound (again) of rain. Would this put the pouring of the concrete beams for the First Floor of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize at risk ?

I was tempted to get ready quickly and go up to the site and see if work was taking place but then common sense kicked in and I realised that my presence wouldn’t change things. They would be working or not irrespective of me being there. So I had breakfast and settled down to watch Arsenal nervously beat Brighton and Hove Albion to progress to the next round of the FA Cup. Feeling that the day might turn out OK after all I left Rose at home whilst I went to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Even before I got to the site I could hear the sound of the concrete mixer churning away. I love that sound. Great, the rain wasn’t going to stop things today.

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Loads of guys feeding the mixer.

The heavy rain of the past few days made the approach to the house a lot more difficult but you wouldn’t think it to see the way that the guys pushed the wheelbarrow up the ramp.

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Looking even more difficult in these conditions.

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A look of determination.

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Manoeuvre through the poles.

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And another bucket of concrete poured for the beams.

I counted seventeen guys, including Daniel Camal, our building contractor, working on the site and they were going at a furious pace concentrating on the western (lagoon) side of the house.

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Precariously balanced whilst pouring a veranda beam.

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Like a trapeze artist.

The food wagon (OK, golf cart) then turned up and they guys very quickly found there places to eat lunch.

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A refreshing drink first.

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That tastes good!

While the guys ate someone else appeared for lunch.

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There must be something to eat here.

And someone just turned up to see what was going on.

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Looks like a nice place.

Twenty-five minutes later the guys were back at work and I set off to collect Rose and then return to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. It would be good to let her know that nothing was going to stop us.

Within just over forty minutes (I drive more slowly when Rose is on board) we were there and the guys were still working at a sprinter’s pace and had now moved to the inside beams.

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So many bodies there’s hardly room to swing a cat (not that Rose would let me swing a cat).

Daniel was up on the scaffolding making sure that the job was being done properly.

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Have they filled every bit?

Oh, meant to mention earlier, but I did learn from the accident a few days ago and dressed appropriately today.

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Not the height of fashion but…

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And the boots were brilliant in the waterlogged conditions.

Not to be outdone Rose wore her matching ensemble .

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Looking stylish as ever.

Satisfied with progress Rose and I left the guys to finish off the pour.

I have great news for you Mystery Blogger fans. I am taking a well earned break and the next edition will be produced and published by the Mystery Blogger. I can’t wait to read it! Bet you can’t either.

The headline is based on the McFadden & Whitehead single released in 1979 which reached number thirteen in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number five in the UK Singles Chart.

‘Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)’ in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Weather this morning although not starting out bright,sunny and hot ( wore a sweat top until around 11 am) was a vast improvement when compared to the previous few days. It looked good for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. An opportunity to claw back some of the time lost to the heavy rain.

Feeling good – and everybody is free here to feel good – I thought I would spend a little time whilst drinking my early morning cup of coffee on the veranda reflecting on the progress of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize versus the forty week schedule as the time lapsed has just edged over the thirty percent mark ( for those with a statistical bent today sees us (excluding public holidays from the calculations) hit the thirty-two point nine percent mark).

We have experienced one or two interruptions. Not surprising really when one considers that the build started on 5 November which was slap bang in the rainy season. So to only lose a couple of days to inclement weather is pretty good going. Hope that I am not tempting providence with this!

We have also changed the design/build specifications for the Ground Floor with the addition of a bedroom en-suite and a move of position for the store room. Oh, and we have also changed the design/build for the ground to Ground Floor stairs and the golf cart ramp.

All in all I estimate that we are around two weeks behind where we should have been. Bloody good under the circumstances and a performance by Daniel Camal, our building contractor, and his team that Rose and I are very pleased with. We are also quietly confident that the ‘lost’ time will be recovered.

Anyway, enough of this period of reflection on my part and back to the present, progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize today.

Rose and got to the build at around 3 pm and just as I had finished locking the golf cart the rain started to come down. I could see Anhill and Alfredo in the distance working on a form at the front (eastern) side of the house.

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Anhill and Alfredo feel the first drops of rain.

The rain then started to really come down and it came down hard. So hard we didn’t make it to the evolving house but only to the bodega ( I, even though Rose had suggested I take it with me, did not have my raincoat – another case of Rose being right!).

The bodega is nothing special. Somewhere to store the tools and for the guys to hang their clothes and rucksacks but boy did it feel special today.

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Shovels ready for action – if only!

We could hear the sound of hammers hitting nails in the distance but then the rain got too much for the guys and they retreated to take cover in the water tank. We made entreaties to them to join us in the bodega but only Anhill and Alfredo took up the invitations. Everyone though was in the dry whilst the rain came pouring down.

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Looking eastwards from the doorway of the bodega. Our swamp grows!

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Wisely the cement is protected with plastic sheeting.

After around 40 minutes the rain started to ease slightly and the guys started to emerge from the water tank but I am sorry to report that I didn’t get any pictures (I will carry a raincoat at all times now). Soon after we could hear the sounds of hammers at work.

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Alfredo looking at the wimps in the bodega sheltering from the rain.

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A focused Anhill after his respite in the bodega.

Not being as hardy as the guys ( and because I stupidly did not take a raincoat with me) Rose and I left the site to return home for our 5pm meeting with Daniel which was a good one. The major point for us was to ensure that Daniel knows exactly the kind of ‘look’ we want for the internal stairs.

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The look we are aiming for – the stairs, not the wall!

Daniel pleasingly confirmed that he will be able to construct the internal staircase in line with our aspiration. He also provided us with a couple of colour treatments for the wood for our kitchen and bathroom cabinetry.

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A bit too light for us.

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Darker but not quite there.

Daniel will now provide us with a couple more samples with darker treatment.

Saturday, weather permitting, the concrete beams to support the First Floor will be poured.

The headline is based on the 1991 single by Rozalla which reached number six in the UK Singles Chart and number 37 in the US Billboard Hot 100. Pleased to report ( a bit of name dropping here) that Rose and I used to socialise occasionally with Rozalla and her husband Alan Brydon when we lived in the UK.